Land acquisition could provide miles of continuous public beach
By Rob Ollikainen
Olympic Peninsula News Group
Clallam County officials are pursuing a property acquisition to expand public shoreline access in Clallam Bay.
The three commissioners on Monday directed Parks Supervisor Hannah Merrill to seek a property assessment for the parcel at 16401 state Highway 112, which connects Clallam Bay West County Park to State Parks land that is being transferred to the county.
“Purchase of this parcel would increase public enjoyment, allow local/public access, and ensure maintenance via the addition to Clallam County parks,” Parks, Fair and Facilities Director Joel Winborn said in a memo to the board.
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Merrill said the 2.5-acre parcel meets criteria for property acquisitions under the county’s Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Master Plan.
“This particular parcel was written into the plan,” Merrill told commissioners Monday.
The parcel would complete public access from Clallam Bay West County Park to Slip Point and provide miles of continuous public beach access, Winborn said in his memo.
The county’s Parks Advisory Board voted unanimously to support the property acquisition, Merrill said.
West End Commissioner Bill Peach said the Clallam Bay Sekiu Lions Club built a trail in the area that is used by Clallam Bay High School sports teams and the general public.
The proposed land acquisition would allow Bruins athletes to safely access the shoreline from campus, Peach said.
“If you have to jump off of the blacktop because a car is coming, it’s very steep down to where the trail is,” Peach said.
Merrill said the current property owner was eager to sell the parcel.
“He’s very interested in it becoming a public property, because he says people do access it,” Merrill said.
“He says as long as people clean up, he didn’t mind that they use it, but he sees the benefit of it going into a county parks-type of property.”
“He’s a community-minded person,” Merrill added, “but he’s under the constraint of needing to move forward.”
The property is listed on the market for $125,000, according to Zillow.
Commissioners directed Merrill to work with Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Elizabeth Stanley on ways to expedite the property acquisition under county policy.
“It sounds like the board wholeheartedly endorses the pursuit of this,” said Commissioner Mark Ozias, board chairman.
“I think it’s good sense for every reason. I’m glad that it was already called out in our parks plan. That does make it a little bit more straightforward.”
In other parks-related news, Merrill said day and overnight use of county parks had seen a “boom” since COVID-19 related closures last spring and summer.
“We had 60 percent higher use last fall, and January, February and March had seen a 30-percent increase in use this year,” Merrill said.
“RVs are selling like crazy, and people are going out on the road camping.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected]